29 Dec 2023

2023: Reset

2022 was rough. The year started with lots of energy - a new baby, Engage growing, and then new realities started kicking in. I watched Engage’s runway drain as we struggled with reaching product market fit. We tried many ideas from the playbook - inbound sales, community, socials, and ads, but conversion growth was slow.

The reasonable choice was to raise a new round but I didn’t want to get distracted from the product. I knew what effort went into raising the first round and how distracting and stressful it could be. That coupled with our slow growth, I decided against it. I kept convincing myself we would be able to figure it out and be profitable before we ran out of funds. You guessed right, I was wrong.

But we kept pushing. I had stopped paying myself way earlier and was really struggling. And piling on debts. At this point, it was obvious the kind of growth I was waiting for to justify our next raise wasn’t going to happen that fast so I started engaging my investors about raising a new round. Then my dad died in August.

I felt numb. Then pain. Not from the loss. But that I didn’t get closure on a lot of things I wanted to. Then anger.

Towards the end of the year, a lucky break finally happened. I got a windfall from a secondary equity sale. I was able to settle my debts and loaned a big chunk to Engage to extend our runway while I continued my engagement with my investors.

2023 started with lethargy. I kept thinking about money, growth, raising, what could change, and everything in between. On the home front, there was peace. Even when everything around was crumbling, that, and my faith were my solace. I would wake up every morning, look at the family, and get the energy to face the day.

In February, I got wind of Tech Nation shutting down. My friend had been pressing me for over 3 years to apply but I would shrug it off. This time, it felt the timing was right. I needed that reset, especially for the family. So I prayed and applied. A bit over a week later, I got a yes.

The relocating experience wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be. But that is a totally different post I need to take time to write in detail. I traveled to the UK in May for about a month to explore and get accommodation. By the end of June, myself and the family relocated to the UK.

In May and the following months, I suffered serious burnout. At first, I thought it was because I was away from family and support systems, especially with faith. But even after the family relocated, it took some effort to get back in shape. It was strange. I was happy about the move, although not ecstatic (I don’t get ecstatic about a lot of things). I was happy for a lot of things – settling in a place with proper and better systems; where I do not have to worry about low-level problems like electricity or water. But more importantly, seeing my daughter jump ecstatically when we took her to her new school and the new radiance on my wife’s face brought me lots of joy and made it worth it.

At this point, Engage was at the fatal pinch. Raising in 2023 was another level of hard. And I failed at trying to do so. By Q3, it came down to 2 options: increase revenue and/or decrease spend. Increasing revenue wasn’t something that could be forced, so I started with the other option. I had a call with the team and explained the situation to them. I had to let people go and drop expenses in many other ways. Fortunately, by Q4, revenue, was enough to cover expenses.

Things are calmer now. My wife started a new job and I am adjusting to the reality of the new environment, culture, and life. Of course, I am still worried about money. I don’t have a proper source of income yet and living expenses are more expensive here. But I am focused on the positives. It was a crazy year, but a lot of things went right. Every morning, the first thing on my mind is gratitude for grace, privilege, family, and how far we have come. I have seen the future. It’s beautiful. I choose to focus on that.


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My name is Opeyemi Obembe. I build things for web and mobile and write about my experiments. Follow me on Twitter—@kehers.


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